22 Nov 2008

American Samoa's Health director fined for failing to appear in court

2:03 pm on 22 November 2008

American Samoa's Health director, Utoofili Maga has been fined 1,000 US dollars for failing to appear at a court hearing last month.

The High Court scheduled a hearing to hear testimony from Utoofili about services available for mental health patients in the territory.

The information is important because a mental health evaluation is often requested for defendants who have a history of mental health problems and face criminal charges in the High Court.

However, the health director traveled off-island and the court then issued a warrant of arrest.

Utoofili returned to the territory and turn himself in to the court.

According to court records, there are three inmates requiring mental health evaluation and Chief Justice Michael Kruse said these individuals should not be in jail, but at a special facility provided by the department of health or other government agencies.

He also said he is tired of keep hearing the same thing from the government that a facility will be built, but in the last 20 years nothing has been done.